Control For Smilers

7.30.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

7.30.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

There were so many ridiculous jams and highlights from Red Rocks that it would be very easy to overlook one of the best pieces of the weekend.  Wedged in the middle of the tour’s first set, Phish dove deeply into “Stash,” obliterating any single piece of improv that we’d heard in ’09.  While first sets of tours can often be disjointed (though this one flowed better than most) there is usually at least one jam of note- but they are not usually like this.  Interestingly, the band has used “Stash” in each of their three tour-opening sets at Hampton, Fenway, and Red Rocks as their initial dip into psychedelic lava.  It seems that Phish likes to warm their chops on their revered classic before digging into further improv.  The previous opening-set versions have been legitimate, type one-ish jams- but this time things would be different.  Expecting another “warm up” jam, Phish threw down a twenty-minute odyssey, and after four days of bliss, it deserves to be revisited.

7.31.09 (B.Carlson)

7.31.09 (B.Carlson)

Placing “Stash” in the middle-to-latter part of the set, the band got some songs under their belts before pulling the pavement from under their nails.  Commencing the jam as the day’s light faded, we were headed into darkness in more ways than one.  As they opened the door to the evening, Mike led the band, thumping ominously-  foreshadowing his leadership throughout this jam, and his all-world playing throughout the weekend.  As the band worked through the initial part of the “Stash” jam, you could tell that something was different from June- they were flowing, and didn’t seem to be in their own heads so much; they were shredding as if sharing a brain.  Glued together and pushed by Gordon, they built their way into a nasty jam where each member contributed to the greater whole.

Fishman began to bring the jam off its linear course, dropping his driving beat in favor of softer, more shimmering rhythm.  Trey quickly took the invitation, following Fishman outwards, with Page and Mike not far behind.  After the music built into a cacophonous brew, Trey and Page charted a different course, adding a melodic direction to the improv, and at this point the jam really took off.

7.30.09 (G.Lucas)

7.30.09 (G.Lucas)

As the band soared into completely original territory, previewing the monstrous weekend we were about to have, we also got a taste of how well Trey and Mike would play together throughout the stand.  When Trey and Mike are complementing each other as well as they were at Red Rocks, it’s hard for the band to go wrong.  Both of them offered innovative ideas, and fit them congruently in place with each other.  Their musical conversations were precise and creative, leading to jams we never saw coming- and this “Stash” was the first.  Leaving the song’s structure completely, the band reached inspirational places that swept us away into a weekend we will never forget.  Once reaching a point of pure improv, the band wove a tapestry of beautiful darkness- a musical paradox that some of the best Phish jams embody.  Gradually increasing in tempo, the exalting piece reached an enormous peak led by Trey’s rolling melodies before the band seamlessly- and dramatically- crashed back into the “Stash” jam.

Carving away at the song’s final build, the band didn’t simply jump to the lick. Instead, they took their time to peak the composed “Stash” jam before wrapping up a monumental segment that had us staring at each other in disbelief.  What had just happened?  Was this now the deal?  We would soon find out that yes, in fact, it was; and this “Stash” in Red Rocks’ initial set was the first to let us in on that that little secret that we all discovered in Colorado- we have our band back again!


7.30.09 (G.Lucas)

7.30.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

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499 Responses to “Control For Smilers”

  1. youenjoy09 Says:

    anyone have an ‘ULTIMATE REBA MIX’ they feel like sharing?

  2. llamalee Says:

    mr. c, my opener goes without saying

  3. halcyon Says:

    llama for llamalee!!!

    I would like them to bust out Fee at The Gorge.

  4. Frankie Says:

    taboot taboot…

  5. notkuroda Says:

    so is anyone gonna be around for me to kill time with tomorrow? I got 6 hours to put in at work before I catch my plane

  6. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I’m going with a Stealing Time opener.

  7. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Anybody going to Chicago on Monday before the show? Looking for something to do Monday night in Chicago.

  8. Cactus Says:

    Buried Alive opener tonight.

  9. BrandonKayda Says:

    YEM opener. I base that only on the fact that they opened their first post-hiatus Shoreline show with YEM.

    Any working streams up for tonight?

  10. halcyon Says:

    Cool Photos from Red Rocks

  11. worthlesswampyfool Says:

    need floor space in chicago if anyone can help…

    cricket, cricket

  12. llamalee Says:

    worthless swampy fool, you need a chicago ticket

  13. llamalee Says:

    i got one for you if you need one

  14. llamalee Says:

    is this an icculus opener

  15. llamalee Says:

    nevermind, hoodstream playing old show and vocal jam – pretend i didn’t say it

  16. playitleo Says:

    Any dank streams 2night

  17. worthlesswampyfool Says:

    wheres the stream boys?!?!?!

    llama, i got tix. need place to crash tuesday after show. possibly monday too.

    got one extra for the show too… although im sure theres plenty around

  18. Cactus Says:

    Buried Alive opener…minutes away.

  19. worthlesswampyfool Says:


  20. playitleo Says:

    golgi, halleys, chalkdust so far

  21. Cactus Says:

    Golgi opener ??? Odd.

  22. playitleo Says:

    no stream yet on hoodstream, but hopefully soon

  23. Cactus Says:

    Kind of strange first three songs I must say.

  24. Crack of Thunder Says:

    Waiting for a Mockingburd…

  25. playitleo Says:

    this site has gone silent, where could they all be?

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